‘Amarlis Managing Director Tom Craig live on BBC
January 2003

Amarlis Managing Director, ex Scotland Yard Fraud Officer, Tom Craig invited to act as specialist advisor live on BBC's Paul Kenyon Uncovers programme investigating the UK’s fastest growing crime – Identity theft!

Tom's substantial expertise in fraud investigation and prevention was invaluable in the hard hitting and explosive programme broadcast on BBC 1 on Wednesday 8th January 2003.

The programme, which included a live TV and online forum, investigated and showed just how easy it is to ‘steal’ a persons identity including that of the British Home Secretary - David Blunkett.

Paul Kenyon, of BBC One's Kenyon Confronts programme, set out to prove how easy it is to snatch other people's identities and shows that basic checks are not made when official documents are issued.

His revelations come amid concerns about government proposals to introduce an "entitlement card" - which has been described as a form of national identity card.

Kenyon managed to get a provisional driving licence with Mr Blunkett's name and details - but with his own picture - despite the fact that the home secretary is registered blind.

It took only one trip to the family records centre for the reporter to get a copy of Mr Blunkett's birth certificate, which turned out to be sufficient proof of identity to get the driving licence.

Return of the Jackal:

Kenyon said: "In today's Britain you can become anyone you want to be, it's very, very easy."

For the programme the reporter also "became" the author Frederick Forsyth, who famously wrote the book The Day of the Jackal in which an assassin steals the identity of a dead person.

This time he obtained a copy of Mr Forsyth's birth certificate just by telephoning the Family Records Centre, in a move described by former Scotland Yard Fraud Officer Tom Craig as "a serious breach of policy."

Not only does Kenyon steal Mr Forsyth's identity he also opened bank accounts and acquired credit cards - with the millionaire's credit rating - worth thousands of pounds.

A shocked Mr Forsyth told the programme: "30 years ago I exposed to the authorities a loophole in their own security and I presumed they would stop it - they didn't."

When Kenyon told Mr Forsyth he had also "stolen" the home secretary's identity he said: "Mr Blunkett is supposed to be the head of the department that controls MI5."

Mr Forsyth, a security expert, also expressed alarm at the possibility terrorists, perhaps even agents for Osama Bin Laden, could use these techniques to obtain false identification.

Epidemic:

Identity fraud costs the UK billions of pounds each year and it is the country's fastest growing crime.

Tom Craig says: "It's the start of an epidemic. It's difficult to detect and it's easy to perpetrate."

He also warned that having debts run up in your name is not the only problem you could face if someone poses as you.

In some extreme cases victims had their entire identities, including medical and employment records, hijacked and were forced to prove their own identities.

In these cases Mr Craig said: "You have to get everyone to believe that you are the genuine person. You've actually got to prove your innocence."

A Home Office spokeswoman told the programme they were aware of the problems highlighted and were recommending more stringent checks on applications for passports and driving licences, including using iris images and fingerprints.

The spokeswoman added they were considering implementing "some short-term measures which the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) will be adopting to increase security surrounding driving licence applications".

Source: BBC News